Isla Simpson – on rise to be the Laura Ashely in our generation.

When I met Isla, we both were in our final year of uni, we worked almost every weekend together at the queen of handbags Anya Hindmarch’s Pont Street store, naturally our friendship was formed. Isla then became a handbag designer then freelancing, I was busy pursuing my career in fashion. We re-connected when I launched Y + O and Isla has become one of the hottest event illustrator within fashion and home decor, working with brands as Aerin, Matches fashion launching her beautiful stationary line. Her hand painted candles sold out within few days on line, her beautiful design launched in the most iconic Liberty London and continued her collaboration with many including designed this beautiful sustainable advent calendar for L’Occitane.

L’Occitane 2020 sustainable beauty calendar designed by Isla Simpson.

And during this pandemic, she did not slow down but launched her incredible illustration course teach us how to make our own menu cards, place cards at home with a simple ipad, also launched small line of homeware, I wanted to share Isla’s story as my super smart and beautiful friend, the queen of home entertaining. Our full interview is on my IGTV, worth this 45 minutes to get all your tips from Isla.

KF: For me, a person’s journey is key to success, please can you share – how long have you been freelancing and working for yourself?

Isla: Four years, the first year was such an unmitigated disaster, I’ve written it off in my head.  I was completely ill prepared for how different freelancing would be, having worked in house for various brands as a handbag designer for 13 years. 

KF: What has been the toughest working for yourself that you think many do not understand unless they are in it?

Isla: That it can take forever to get paid! That people ask for free work all the time. That you have to have difficult conversations about money and deadlines on a daily basis.  That despite all your best efforts to make a deadline, you are forever at the mercy of someone else’s timeline.  That you have to wear different hats all the time. Every day I wake up, and I’m the designer, the product developer, the accountant, the marketing team…..

KF: Same as above, what has been the most satisfying working for yourself that you don’t get even if you had a secured and well paid job?

Isla: That I decide the designs for my own shop.  There’s no design manager or range sign off, it’s just me.  And the designs are all the better for not having a merchandising team whispering in my ear.  It’s a creative freedom like no other. 

KF: What is your best tip for freelancers in terms of managing their own finance and budgeting.

Isla: Cloud based accounting software, Xero!  I wish I’d set myself up with it right from the beginning. It took me months to unravel bad book keeping with a cheap accountant I was using for the first two years.  And ideally have a buffer to cover waiting to get paid, and always pay the buffer back. 

KF: When was the moment you realised your niche and created your signature style?

Isla: I think it was last month when I saw my first new embroidered linen samples, it was just a quiet, goodness, I love what I do moment with myself. 

KF: What is your biggest moment since you work for yourself, please share the glory.

Isla: Honestly most of the time I’ve got my eyes firmly on my lane, paddling hard, there’s no glory bathing.  I’ve just done a sustainable advent calendar for L’Occitane and they were such a delight to work with.  

KF: Please share your tips of how you lay your beautiful tables?

Isla: Contrary to what people might think, I’m the least fancy person.  I don’t like excessively formal tables covered in chargers.  But I do believe in good everyday, timeless items, that I never grow tired of and make a table special.  Like antique silver cutlery, Spode plates, Victorian vases.  Nearly everything I own is second hand, inherited, from an auction house, but  cardinal my rule is it has to go in the dishwasher, life’s too short.  I’m a good cook and adore my friends, so I’m not going to be a martyr to a sink full of hand washing after everyone’s gone home.

KF: What is your favourite meal of the day? and please share one of the recipes of that meal you can make it within 30 mins.

Isla: I worship at the culinary alter of Diana Henry;

Ok I’m bending the time rules.  But most of her tray bake recipes, you can have chopped and in the oven in 10 mins.  I slink back to my desk , and when the buzzer goes off in 45 mins, I’m there with red wine in hand, decompressing. Heaven. 

KF: Your home is filled with delicious eclectic goodies, please share your favourite place to shop and what is your best ‘BuyLessBuyWell’ items?

Isla: It’s so boring to say Ebay, but I’m a person of niche taste and an Ebay saved search is a glorious thing.  I always buy antique silver cutlery, it’s such good value with a beautiful weight and patina to it.  I pick it up everywhere, antique fairs, boot sales.  I can’t see the point in new cutlery. 

Isla Simpson Course via Procreate

KF: Huge congratulations on launching your on-line course!!! what can people learn from your on-line class and who is the course for?

Isla: The course is for anyone who wants to learn how to create a menu and place card for their wedding or dinner party tables.  I teach it on an ipad because it’s so editable, if you make a mistake, you can just tap un do.  You don’t need any experience in design or artistic skills to take the course, I teach you in a paint by numbers way, how to recreate my designs.  And of course I teach you the most fabulous drawing app Procreate!  It’s like a series of drawing lessons with me.  There’s also advice on printing and how to create your own designs. I’m aware that not everyone has the budget to commission bespoke designs from me, but I thought it would be so exciting to share my expertise with people through the course. 

Isla Simpson is a designer and illustrator – follow her on instagram and join her course here.

Enjoy this article? Follow my instagram for more updates and stories @kfyangoconnor.


當我遇見Isla時,我們倆都進入了大學入學的最後一年,幾乎每個週末我們都在手提包女王安雅·欣德瑪奇(Anya Hindmarch)的Pont Street商店裡一起工作。然後,Isla成為手袋設計師,然後開始自由職業,我忙於從事時尚事業。當我推出Y + O時,我們重新建立了聯繫,Isla成為時尚和家居裝飾領域最炙手可熱的事件插圖畫家之一,與Aerin等品牌合作,Matches fashion推出了她美麗的固定線。她的手繪蠟燭在幾天之內就賣光了,在這種大流行期間,她並沒有放慢腳步,而是推出了令人難以置信的插圖課程,教我們如何製作自己的菜單卡,如何使用簡單的ipad在家放置卡,還推出了小額產品線關於家庭用品,我想分享Isla的故事,作為我超級聰明和美麗的朋友,家庭娛樂之王,這是我對Isla的一些疑問。我們的IGTV上有我們完整的訪談,值得花這45分鐘來獲得您有關在家娛樂的所有訣竅。

KF: 對我來說,一個人的旅程是成功的關鍵,請您分享一下-您從事自由職業和工作了多長時間了?

Isla: 四年。第一年是如同一場艱苦的災難,我身心疲憊,只能把那年完全跳過。在那之前,我在品牌裡當手袋設計師工作了13年,自由業和全職的不同是我當時沒有的準備。


Isla:  常常客戶很慢付費!一直要求免費工作。您必須每天都在艱難地討論金錢和截止日期。儘管您盡了最大的努力來設定截搞日期,但您永遠都受他人時間表的擺佈。您必須一直戴不同的帽子。每天我醒來,我是設計師,也是產品開發人員,會計師,營銷團隊…..很辛苦!












ISLA: 我崇拜戴安娜·亨利的烹飪方式。我會調整時間規則。但是,她的大多數托盤烘烤食譜都可以切碎,然後在烤箱中烘烤10分鐘。我回頭拿著紅酒減壓,當蜂鳴器在45分鐘內響起時,就煮好。

KF:您的家中到處都是可口的折衷品,請分享您最喜歡的購物地點,最好的“ BuyLessBuyWell”商品是什麼?




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